W. Todd Kaneko


Metalhead doesn’t think about the future. He hitches a ride to the Iron Maiden concert with a couple of girls in a beat up Chevy Nova. The driver is in her fourth year of community college and they all yearn for that thrill of the corpse’s dance, for a sky that doesn’t hover over a stretch of Michigan highway like a gravestone. Metalhead tries to flirt but tells too many dirty jokes by mistake. He doesn’t yet know that a body can be alive and still be a ghost. As Metalhead hunts through the arena parking lot for a bootlegged ticket, he is always five bucks short before he opens his mouth. He buys a baggie of hash that turns out to be mostly parsley and smokes it anyways with a dude at the bus stop. One day, he will have a wife and a daughter and a job selling used cars, and he will understand that time is a beast slowly murdered by numbers and grief is is not a hollow reserved for the dead. He catches a bus to the record store, and after Rockgod gets off work, they play Super Mario Bros. at his apartment until they run out of beer. Neither of them ever saves the princess because a boy never knows where he is going with so many coins hiding in thin air. It’s morning when Rockgod drives Metalhead home before heading off in search of a date. The sparrows chatter against the moon and the newspaper lies on the porch. Metalhead’s mother is waiting for him in the living room as he creeps through the front door—she asks him where he has been. One day, he will visit her in the hospital and she will confuse him for his father. Metalhead will understand how there can be cobwebs without spiders, that difference between the albatross and the noose. He will have plenty to say to her then: that there can be no such thing as a free man so long as there is gravity, that a boy trying to touch the sun can forget the steadfastness of earth, that it’s difficult to live with ghouls where once there was flesh, where now there is just our boots and the ground that anchors us.


W. Todd Kaneko’s first book, The Dead Wrestler Elegies, was published in 2014 by Curbside Splendor. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and is co-editor of the online lit journal Waxwing. His poems and prose have appeared in the Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, The Normal School, The Collagist, and elsewhere.